Fortiden blir lengre for hvert år. I 2017 har det kommet så mange flotte reutgivelser og samlinger at man nesten ikke trenger å høre på ny musikk. Vel, bare nesten da. Vi har feiret at Bob Seger og Yoko Ono, for å ta to vidt forskjellige artister som eksempel, har kommet på plass i de digitale platehyllene, men aller viktigst var selvsagt at hele katalogen til ECM nå endelig er tilgjengelig i sin fulle bredde. Kvalitetsgarantister som Numero, Strut og Light in the Attic, og vår hjemlige Runde 2, bidrar til å pumpe ut gull fra arkivene, og eldre utgivelser blir til stadighet støvpusset og nylansert. Dette er mine fem favoritter fra retroåret 2017:
Hüsker Dü: Savage Young Dü
Numero er alltid en kvalitetsgaratist, og markerer sitt katalognummer 200 med praktboksen Savage Young Dü der de dokumenterer den tidlige fasen til Hüsker Dü. Her får du 69 låter, derav 47 tidligere uutgitte, som følger Minnesota-trioen fra den spede begynnelsen i 1979 og fram til de signet med SST i 1983. Dette er en viktig og fullverdig dokumentasjon av et band som utviklet seg fra ubehøvlet punkrock til et av de aller mest sentrale bandene i framveksten av den amerikanske undergrunnsscenen. Savage Young Dü høres digitalt, men nytes også i fysisk format i kraft av en massiv og godt illustrert bok.
Lal & Mike Waterson: Bright Phoebus
Nydelig remastering og reutgivelse av et særs vanskelig tilgjengelig album, opprinnelig utgitt i 1972. I tillegg til the Watersons ble innspillingen gjestet av nær sagt halve den britiske folk-scenen på 70-tallet: Martin Carthy, Richard Thompson, Ashley Hutchings, Dave Mattacks, Tim Hart og Maddy Prior er alle med her, på en plate som jevnlig og rettmessig beskrives som ‘a folk-noir masterpiece’.
Neil Young: Hitchhiker
Man blir aldri ferdig med Neil Young. I hvert fall vi som er ekstra glad i den midtre 70-tallskatalogen hans. Hitchhiker har ligget på lager i hans legendariske arkiver altfor lenge, selv om mange av låtene herfra har sivet ut i årenes løp. Sammen med produsent David Briggs gjennomført Young såkalte ‘full moon sessions’ i årene 1975-77, og det er fra en slik kveld disse opptakene stammer fra. Nærmere bestemt 11. august 1976. Sammen med etablerte klassikere som “Pocahontas” og “Powderfinger” dukker også uutgitte “Hawaii” og “Give Me Strength” opp på en skive som bærer med seg den endeløse solnedgangen fra California på 1970-tallet slik bare Neil Young klarer å fange den.
Jeg har så vidt nevnt U-Men her inne tidligere, og nå har jammen meg Sub Pop skrapet sammen hist og hint fra dette oversette bandet fra Seattles pre-grunge periode. Mark Arm (Mudhoney) har skrevet liner notes, og han beskriver dem egentlig bedre enn noen andre: The U-Men are one of the best bands I’ve ever seen. They were hypnotic, frenetic, powerful and compelling. It was impossible to resist getting sucked into their weird, darkly absurd world. They effortlessly blended The Sonics, Link Wray, Pere Ubu, and Captain Beefheart. Their shows were loose-limbed, drunken dance parties and no two shows were alike. The U-Men were avant garage explorers and, most importantly, they fucking rocked.
VA: Sweet As Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes
Det kommer tonnevis med samleskiver fra hele globusen i løpet av et år, enten det er psykedelisk rock fra Ghana eller strupesang fra Tibet som blir dokumentert. Så mye fet musikk fra alle verdenshjørner og tidsepoker, så liten tid til å sette seg inn i alt. Denne får lov til å representere musikk som ofte blir ignorert, i hvert fall med vestlige øyne. Sweet As Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes er ikke bare en musikalsk skattekiste, som omfavner funk, Afrobeat, reggae, folk og mer, men også en kulturell dokumentasjon over et land som var – og sikkert er – langt mer enn borgerkrig og flyktninger. Vakker musikk, trist bakteppe.
…best of the rest…
The Replacements: For Sale: Live At Maxwell’s 1986
Drivin ’N’ Cryin’: Mystery Road (Expanded edition)
Buffalo Tom: Let Me Come Over: 25th Anniversary Edition
Throbbing Gristle: 20 Jazz Funk Greats (Remastered)
Fingers Inc.: Another Side
VA: Wayfaring Strangers: Acid Nightmares
Jackie Shane: Any Other Way
Mulatu Astatke: Mulatu of Ethiopia
Retroåret i spillelister
Vil du grave litt mer ned i musikk fra fortiden, nær og fjern, så har jeg plukket ut noen anbefalte spillelister på TIDAL laget i 2017, som inkluderer både strømlinjeformet country, punk, psykedelisk soul og frihetsjazz for å nevne noe. Bør være litt for enhver smak, i hvert fall for den som er nysgjerrig på musikk. God fornøyelse!
Murder Ballads: Stories of Misery & Mayhem
Murder ballads have a history that goes back to pre-modern times, with many originating in England and Scotland and written down, printed and sold on broadsheets already in the 17th century as true crime novels of their time. These dark and often grotesque stories have endured during the centuries in their purest form or mutating into something slightly different as they found new life on the other side of the Atlantic with the European settlers. A classic example would be the Appalachian murder ballad “The Knoxville Girl”, which can be derived under various names back to English ballads from the 1500s. But murder is also a frequent topic in American ballads, as Library of Congress states: “Many murder ballads were composed in America, especially after famous murder cases. An example is “Pearl Bryant,” a fictionalized account of the murder of Pearl Bryan in Kentucky in 1896.” This playlist is a collection of some of the most famous Murder Ballads, including “Tom Dooley”, “Stagger Lee” and “In the Pines”, as well as some more recent examples of the genre. [Ill: “Anguish”, Albrecht Schenck, public domain]
Rumba on the River: Congolese Classics
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) harbors one of the most varied and vibrant music scenes in Africa, particularly centered on the capital of Kinshasa. Formerly known as Belgian Congo and Zaire, DRC started to develop a pan-Congolese musical identity after World War II with Latin tinged Rumba as the main craze. The formation of the popular and highly influential Le Grand Kallé et l’African Jazz (African Jazz) in the early 1950s turned out to be an important event in terms of shaping a unique musical identity as well as giving voice to a rising national self-confidence. African jazz also introduced African music to Europe, and their “Indépendance Cha Cha” (1960) is commonly considered as one of the first Pan-African hit songs. Congolese rumba (or Soukous) is still an important and integrated part of Congolese music, alongside added inspiration from funk, psychedelia and later hip-hop and electronica. Follow the musical development from colonial to modern times and gives you a glimpse into a highly exciting and energetic music scene.
Country Got Soul
It came out of the south. Centered in the ‘Country-Soul triangle’ of Memphis, Nashville and Muscle Shoals in the 1960s, Country Soul was the merging of country and soul music, bridging two genres sharing so much of the same genealogy. The styles were largely segregated at the time, exacerbated by racial identifications of their respective fanbases, but drew from the same musical lineage of gospel, rhythm & blues and folk. The irresistible and triumphant mixture of country and soul worked in favor of both styles and transcended the ‘musical color line’. This playlist guides you through some classics from the Country Soul triangle and beyond.
Surfin’ the Gutter: L.A. Punk Classics
Los Angeles and its surrounding areas are crucial for the birth and development of US punk music. A social movement of Regan-era misfits grew out of the vast and affluent suburbs of Orange County, California, and spawned the birth of hardcore punk in the late 1970s (Santa Ana’s, The Middle Class, Hermosa Beach’ Black Flag, and others). The Los Angeles punk scene is also closely associated with the birth of the melodic and super catchy pop-punk scene (Bad Religion, Descendents, NOFX), and Southern California is thus to a large extent responsible for the alternative rock explosion of the 1980s and 1990s. Enjoy this selection of vintage SoCal punk classics, including FEAR, The Germs, The Dickies and loads more.
Soft Rainbow Summer: Sunshine Pop
The soft, sweet sounds of Sunshine Pop (or Soft Pop) naturally arose in 1960s Southern California, drawing on several vibes of the era, including folk, psychedelia and easy listening. Characteristics include lush vocals, light arrangements and an overall sunny vibe. Groups like The Beach Boys, The Mamas & the Papas, The Turtles, The Association and the 5th Dimension are commonly considered important influences and popular archetypes of a style more than often populated with lesser-known acts. Sunshine Pop has amassed quite a cult following over the years, highly regarded and saved from obscurity by notorious album collectors from all over the world. Let the sunshine in! (Cover picture: Summer Nomads, Life Magazine August 14, 1970).
Electric Samurais: Japan Inside/Out
Japan boasts an extremely eclectic and wide-ranging music scene with prime artists on every level of the musical scope and beyond. This playlist is by no means an attempt to capture the entire national music identity of Japan, but is merely a glimpse into some of the most exciting, experimental and ethereal music coming out of Japan from the 1960s and onwards. Dig into this collection of gems from naive pop art to pure noise bliss.
Psychedelic Africa: Rainbows Over Sahara
Afro rock, psychedelia and raw funk played an important role in the music scene of many African countries from the 1970s and forward. Zamrock came out of Zambia to characterize a scene that was equally inspired by Jimi Hendrix and James Brown (including bands like Witch, Ngozi Family, Amanaz). Nigeria has a long and rich history, not to mention other West African countries like Benin and Togo, and of course among the Tuareg people of Niger and Mali. This musical journey takes you through some of the many highlights from the psychedelic sounds of Africa.
United Forces: Metal Punx
Metal heads and Punk kids used to squat on separate sides on disgruntled youth. But during the 1980s, the two camps found common ground through numerous crossover acts. This playlist highlights some bands and albums that helped unite metal and punk, tearing down subcultures’ dividing lines and paving way for new directions in hard rock in the years to come. Kicking it off with S.O.D’s “United Forces” as the perfect embodiment, and also including D.R.I, Black Flag, Metal Church and tons more.
Touch & Go: 30 Years of Discomfort
Touch & Go is among the most important independent record labels in alternative rock, not only for being home to 1980s pioneers like Butthole Surfers and Big Black, but also for providing a crucial nationwide network of underground culture. Touch & Go started out in 1979 as a music fanzine based in Lansing, Michigan, before turning into a record label that soon relocated to Chicago. Touch & Go soon enough broadened their hardcore punk roots (Negative Approach, The Meatmen) and expanded into unknown sonic terrain with seminal acts like Scratch Acid, Killdozer, Slint and Urge Overkill, and into the 2000s with bands like Yeah Yeah Yeahs and TV on the Radio. Corey Rusk has been in charge of Touch & Go since the early 1980s, and still maintains the label, while now basically handling back catalog. Join in to a trip in the archives and some highlights from a catalog packed with gems, presented more or less in chronological order.
Black Gold of the Sun: Psychedelic Soul Explosion
In the latter part of the 1960s, many soul and R&B artists started to embrace the psychedelic rock sounds of the time, leading to a new and exciting hybrid dubbed Psychedelic Soul. The style turned out to be an inventive and influential musical trend especially for the subsequent birth of funk and disco, which eventually replaced it in mass popularity. Join in for a ride back to the heyday of psychedelic soul and artists like The Temptations, Curtis Mayfield, Shuggie Otis, Sly & the Family Stone, and many others.
Jazz Is Freedom
Jazz is all about freedom from musical boundaries, exploring the unknown and looking ahead. This daring attitude resonates well with the avant-garde jazz pioneers in the 1960s, and on this playlist we pay tribute to just some freedom fighters – from Ornette Coleman and Pharoah Sanders to torchbearers in the modern day.
Wild Rodeo Ride: Cowpunk Classics
Cowpunk was term being used in the 1980s to describe bands that married traditional country and untamed rockabilly energy with a punk attitude. Los Angeles was a particular hotbed of cowpunk, and the scene is a precursor to the alt.country wave of the 1990s and what is being called Americana since turn of the century. This playlist gives you a taste of some cowpunk classics, including true pioneers and artists based more in the outskirts of the style.
Countrypolitan: Country Pop
With its blend of string-laden pop, sweet vocal harmonies and sensible country tunes, Countrypolitan followed the Nashville Sound as a hugely popular style throughout the late 1960s and 70s. Here are some radio friendly chartbusters alongside other favorites from the era.
The Nashville Sound
When the honky tonk of the early 1950s turned into rockabilly, the country roads led to a more prop friendly format known as the Nashville Sound. Studio producers Chet Atkins and Owen Bradley helped develop this style, replacing hillbilly instruments with strings and background choruses in an effort to reach the more adult oriented and commercially broader Nashville market. While honky tonk lyrics often dealt with working class issues like alcoholism, failed marriages and adultery, the Nashville Sound offered a more escapist approach both in tone and prose. Enjoy some of the era’s prime material, featuring timeless songs from the likes of Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline and many more. The Nashville Sound would later become known as Countrypolitan, distinguished from the Nashville Sound by even more lush arrangements and softer sounds.
Jazz Got Soul
Soul Jazz developed in the 1950s and is characterized by its mix of jazz, soul, blues, gospel and rhythm & blues, and closely associated with the hard bop style. We’ve picked out some groovy and soulful favorites that fit into this rather open category, including Cannonball Adderley, Lee Morgan, Jimmy Smith and other masters of soulful jazz.
More Sad and Slow Hits
In the early 1990s some bands started to turn inwards, imploding rather than exploding, in direct contrast to the prevailing indie/rock and post-grunge hegemony at the time. Terms like ‘slowcore’ and ‘sadcore’ were used to describe such artists that played really slow or really sad music. Or quite often both. Slowcore is not defined by one clear identity, but relates to hushed shoegaze, bleak singers / songwriters and experimental post-rock outfits that all found a common affinity in doing it slow. Press play and be patient.
Memphis Got Soul!
When President Barack Obama paid tribute to Memphis soul in 2013, he called the sound of Soundsville, U.S.A. “A music that, at its core, is about the pain of being alone, the power of human connection and the importance of treating each other right. After all, this is the music that asked us to try a little tenderness. It’s the music that put ‘Mr. Big Stuff’ in his place,” referring to Jean Knight and Otis Redding. Memphis soul grew out of Southern soul in the 1960s, immortalized on labels like Stax, Hi and Goldwax. Commonly described as more sultry and stylish than its origins in Southern soul, Memphis soul was a defining direction until disco changed the scene in the later parts of the ’70s. This is a collection of (mostly) vintage gems from a wonderful period in the history of music.
Intricate Guitars Inventive Rhythms
Math Rock is a term first used in the latter part of the 1980s and 1990s to describe a wave of inventive, new bands more than willing to stretch the limits with rhythmic structures and time signatures. Artists like Bastro, Shellac, Hella and Don Caballero are prime examples on bands shirking complexity in favor of simplicity and angularity in favor of the straight ahead sounds. Math Rock is no strict genre, more likely to be rejected by the ones involved, and is related to post-hardcore and emo as to jazz, prog and punk. The common denominator is their willingness to experiment, their openness for the adventurous and their courageous attitude toward the unknown. We cherish all of these with handpicked delights from just some of the names tied to the sound of intricate guitars and inventive rhythms.